Idaho High Mountain Lake Trips

Island Lake Sawtooth Mountains idahoGuaranteed to Leave You Starry Eyed!

Kids Trip - Fishing Trips -  Sawtooth Splendor Trip

Thinking of moving to Boise Idaho? Once we have helped you find a deal on one of the great homes for sale in Boise metro, we will introduce you to a few of Idaho’s Hidden Gems! You may not know that Idaho is nicknamed the gem state. We have opal, and garnets, jasper and smokey quartz and a variety of other gems! But as beautiful and valuable as these hard rock gems can be, the crown jewels of Idaho lie hidden. Tucked away high in mountain sanges with Mountain Lakes In Idahonames like The Sawtooths and White Clouds, The Bitterroots and The Bighorn’s. The high mountain lakes that dot the high country of Idaho provide peace, solitude, sustenance, beauty and a chance to bond with family and friends to create memories that will last a life time. Since you will be looking at homes in the Boise area I will highlight a few trips and lakes that are within a 2-4 of hours of Boise. I will highlight a great kids trip, a great fishing trip, a trip to a lake with exceptional views and even better solitude and a through hike on Idaho’s centennial trail!

Idaho Mountain Lakes Kids Trip

Josephus-Helldiver-Soldier Lakes Basin-  This area is great for kids because you can car camp or do a short backpack trip even with young kids. Across the highway from the Sawtooth range you will find the Salmon River Mountains and the headwaters to the famous Middle Fork Of The Salmon River. While not as famous the trails and lakes here get less use than their more famous brethren to the south. This kids trip can be a car camp with day hikes or you can load up and go to several lakes within an hour or two of the trail head. From Highway 21 take Seafoam road Fs (008) Go 75 yards and turn right, then turn left after crossing Marsh creek. At about 5 miles, stay left at the junction of Seafoam and Beaver Creek roads. At roughly mile 14 miles ( Lakes Sawtooth Mountainsthe road at mile 12 goes to Seafoam lake) and turn left and climb to Josephus Lake at around mile 18. There are several campsites near the end of the road if the kids are too small to back pack. If you are in the mood to backpack Helldiver lake is an easy 1.5 miles from Josephus. From Helldiver you can do day hikes to 6 or 8 different lakes over the saddle in Soldier lakes complex. These are only another 1.5-2 miles but you have to climb up and over a pass and then drop down 600 feet. If you are going to go for the soldier lakes basin just be aware it is a more strenuous than the trail from Josephus to Helldiver. Beautiful scenery, lots of fish and easy access for the kids! This trip can also be done as a through trip (not a little kids trip) starting at Josephus Lake and leaving a car at the Dagger Falls campground. Roads High clearance 2 wd.

Idaho High Mountain Lakes Fishing Trips

Buck Lake- Pistol Creek Area- Almost every high mountain lakes has fish, but some have bigger fish than others. This lake is a strenuous, arduous trip requiring some decent backcountry skills. The lake is accessed off of the Johnson Creek road between Landmark and Yellow Pine. Access is by an old mining road and it is hardly a road at this point. You can drive it, but it is more of a 4 wheel drive trip to get all the way to the end of the road at the trail head. Option 2 is drive as far as you are comfortable with and back pack from there. The road deteriorates rapidly where it cross’s the creek when leaving Trapper Flat. Buck Lake is your destination, it is large and deep with not a lot of use. I think the outfitter at Pistol Creek Ranch brings some of the homeowners from the ranch up to fish. This is trip is what the Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness is all about, secluded, untouched and wild. Expect to see deer, elk and bears, we howled up some wolves on our trip way cool. Here we go. From Cascade go east to Landmark. Just before Mountain Lakes idahopavement ends turn right towards Yellow Pine. About 15 or 20 miles in you will drop and cross Johnson creek on cement bridge. Turn right on Trapper Creek (FS440) road, it gets a lot of 4 wheeler use and at about 1 mile it gets rough for a couple of hundred yards, then gets good again. At about 4 miles turn right on (FS440a) and drop to Trapper Flat. Cross flat and creek get ready to climb. This is where the road really deteriorates, so if you are not sure if you or your truck are up to the task, park here and hike. It does add a mile and a half to 3 miles to the trip and 1000 feet in elevation. The road climbs for 1.5 miles and you will arrive at a gate installed at the top of the hill. It is a forest service gate and I have been here three times and it has been open every time. It is only about 1 flat mile from the gate to the trailhead. At this point the road flattens and contours around the headwaters of a creek bringing you to the divide between the South Fork Of The Salmon and the Middle Fork Of The Salmon. The unmarked trail takes off at the switchback about 1 mile from the gate. We parked at overlook turn out before the spot where the trail leaves the road. There are no signs or anything just a dirt path to fisherman’s heaven. This trail starts out in a northerly direction and climbs a little. At about a mile it will turn right follow the ridge between Pistol and Indian creeks. The first few miles is generally gently down the ridge are generally easy. At mile 4 you reach a low saddle at the top of Springfield creek, if you got a late start this is a good spot to camp and water is not very far down the hill to the south in the head of Springfield creek. From this Saddle it is a climb to the ridge top and 4 miles above 8500 feet. Terrific views in all directions. You will see Papoose lake on your left and Buck lake on your right. This is hike and lake is remote please take the necessary precautions to get there and back safely. Fish on and on! Roads: BAD…Hey you want fish or not.

hIGH mOUNTAIN lAKE FISHING IDAHOLanger Lake-Island Lake-Rock Lake- Directions are the same as for the Josephus trip above, but park at well-marked trailhead at about 7 miles from highway 21. This is a pretty good option for an early season trip as the area is generally south facing and there are no high passes to go through. There is a series of 5 or 6 lakes here with fishing for all. A 2.5 mile trip up which climbs a modest 1200 feet makes them pretty easy to get to, so expect some company on busty weekends. This trip is great for fisherman waiting for the rivers to come down. There are some big fish in all the big 3 lakes. The first lake you come to is Langer lake, the camp spot near cliff where creek comes in is the best. To get to Rock lake, which has limited camp sites turn right just before you get to Langer lake and bushwhack the half mile. To get to Island Lake and Roughneck lake follow trail past Langer Lake past the shallow pond. At about a half mile come to the lake that google earth calls Roughneck. They are mismarked, this is Island Lake. The island gives it away. The one higher up the hill is nearer Roughneck peak and has no island and I have never caught a fish in it either. All the big 3 have large trout. We caught nice trout in both Rock Lake and Island Lake and were broken off a couple of times. I have never caught a lunker in Langer Lake, however on an early season trip 10 years ago we hiked in over the crusty snow and found a fish head on the ice left by the otters and it was from a 20 plus inch rainbow. So they are in there. Island is my favorite one to camp and fish at. There is also a small unnamed lake a short hike to the south of Island lake that is over populated with smaller fish. So if the kids get bored or you need dinner a quick run down here will keep the kids occupied and fill the creel for dinner! Catch and release the big ones as “I’ll Be Back”. A great side hike is to climb up to the lookout on top of Roughneck Peak. The views from here are tremendous to say the least. Roads: 2 wheel drive car.

Idaho High Mountain Lake- Awesome Views- Solitude

Lakes In IdahoTyee Lake- Perched high on the mountains between the Trinity’s and The Sawtooths is a small lonely lake with decent fishing, almost no other visitors and a view of the Sawtooth mountains from the southwest that will knock your socks off. Hard to get to, no trail and not all that big makes Tyee lake a mid summer sleeper, a go to if you are planning on a trip during the busy summer weekends. It is a no name lake with a name! From Highway 21 take the Crooked River road about 5 miles, turn left (FS312). This road used to go all the way to Graham Guard Station on the North Fork Of The Boise river, but it washed out several years ago. If you get to the wash out you missed the unmarked trail head by about 1-2 miles. Stay right at just over 1 mile. Following the creek, at about 9 miles you will top out and see Jackson Peak lookout across the draw. Where the road to the lookout leaves main road, you will stay right going downhill. Get your 4 wheel drive ready, road will cut through meadows and begin to climb. After a few miles you will come to a couple switchbacks. After the second one the road climbs steeply for about a quarter mile. As soon as the hill on your left melts away and you can see down the draw, stop. There is a teeny parking spot here or you can go on up to the flat 400 yds. further and use the ridge line instead of the trail. From the skinny parking spot, an unmaintained hunting trail drops and contours to the ridge. Tyee Lake is about 2.5 miles, straight east behind the peak, Tyee mountain that you can see from the truck. Once on the ridge you have two choices, stay on trail as it side hills to the north, then once it comes out on the ridge top again, cut back and bushwhack to the lake, flatter but longer distance. The other choice is what we did, which was climb and contour around the right side of Tyee Mountain and then use the ridge around backside to get down. This one is a little step, but good footing. Plus it is like seeing the Sawtooths for a second time for the first time. Same mountains, different view, equally amazing. I think this is where we are headed August 21 for the eclipse! The 14-16 cutthroats where willing and while there is not a view from right at the lake a 100 yard hike produces a special view of the might Sawtooth Mountains. The roads for the last 4 miles is rough, high clearance 4 wd required.

Idaho High Mountain Lake Through Hike

Idaho High Mountain Lakes15-20 mile Hike Through From Lick Creek Summit to Chinook Campground- Via Loon Lake.  Though I have not done this one yet, I am planning on doing it at some point this summer, time willing. This is a multi-day epic 15-25 mile through hike where you leave a vehicle at the end and drive back around to the starting point. The map says there is a trail, but who knows when it was cut out last. This is also outside of the wilderness boundary and could be done as a mountain bike trip! Take Warren Wagon road north from McCall. The pavement ends where the road splits and goes to Bergdorf (killer hot springs at end of trip). Go straight, you will pass a bunch of cabins along the Secesh river. At about 7 miles from end of pavement turn right and park at trailhead. Back to McCall. Go east to Little Payette Lake and climb over Lick Creek Summit to the Hum Lake Trailhead. Park and enjoy. You can do short hike first day and drop into Hum lake for the night or there are a couple of small lakes in the head end of Loon creek. Follow trail down Loon creek to Loon lake. This lake is chuck full of eaters…Be sure to check out the old WWII Bomber that crashed here. The frame is still intact, it is on the south side of the lake. From here to the car the trail is maintained and should be in good shape! If somebody does this before me shoot me an email I would love any intel on the trail et. al.


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